Hello MMD! John Tuttle asked the question on 05.03.02, "Got any ideas
for old rolls?" This was at the end of his email where he had discussed
the many rolls coming out of various forms of storage. I suspect that,
as he stated, many of them are ending up in the dump, but one only has
to look on eBay where you can find on average 500 to 600 listings for
rolls at any one time. Given the average length of an auction of one
week and the number of rolls per listing running from single rolls to
several hundred, that's a lot of rolls not ending up in the dump.
Contrary to the opinion of some, the value of these old roll seems to
be escalating significantly over the last few months. You sure aren't
going to get them on eBay for next to nothing. Large collections of
old rolls that I used to get for under .50 each are now bringing over
$1.00 fairly consistently. I would like to think that the increase in
roll prices is an indication of a renewed interest in player pianos.
I have, however, a much more practical solution of what to do with old
piano rolls: *Repair them and play them!*
Over the last 25 years I have acquired over 3000 rolls and have
repaired all but the last few hundred. I built my own repair jig and
repair to playable condition 25-30 rolls per week in my spare time.
Now, a lot of these rolls I will never play again, but I saved them
from the dump and for posterity.
Admittedly a lot of the music on rolls from the teens and the twenties
is pretty bad by today's standards, but there are some real pearls that
occasionally show up. It's a wonderful feeling to save a roll that
some would have thrown away and then listen it produce music.